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Breaking Down the Budget Clock - Is California Really Losing $52 Million a Day?

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, August 2, 2010
Visitors to the capitol building can’t miss the big, blue digital clock right outside Governor Schwarzenegger’s office. It reads more than one and a half billion. This clock doesn’t keep time.
“We’re looking at a running tally of that 19.1 billion dollars spread out over 365 days.”
H.D. Palmer is with the State’s Finance Department. He’s talking about the Governor’s “budget clock.” Nineteen billion dollars is the size of the state’s shortfall.  
“That works out to about 52.3 million dollars a day in solutions that you don’t get because of a lack of a budget being in place.”
The key word here is solutions. It’s not like there’s a giant piggy bank at the capitol leaking money. But Palmer points out;
“This is a situation where time literally is money.”
Think of it this way; the state may want to cut funding to a certain department, but they can’t do that until a budget is in place. Every day that goes by without a new budget, they have to keep paying the same amount they did last year.
But not everyone is scared by the budget clock.
“Well the only clock we believe Californians care about is the ones counting down the days until the Governor Schwarzenegger leaves his failed administration.”
Shannon Murphy is with Democratic Assembly Speaker John Perez’s office. She says the whole idea of losing 52 million dollars a day is just a PR stunt. Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, also a Democrat, says he has some problems with the figure as well.
“The idea of a running clock and 52 million dollars a day is not accurate because it’s not calculated on a daily basis, but it also doesn’t serve to solve the problem.”
It’s been about a month since the state’s new fiscal year began, but with no budget in sight, the Governor’s clock won’t stop ticking any time soon.
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